/ Money

Burger King’s WhopperCoin: would you use branded cash?

Burger king

Burger King Russia has launched its own-branded virtual currency, the ‘WhopperCoin’. The virtual cash will allow customers to purchase a Whopper burger for 1,700 WhopperCoins. But could you be persuaded to ditch your pounds for branded currency?

Now, virtual currency isn’t all that new, Bitcoin has been around for a fair few years now – early investors in Bitcoin have reportedly made their millions, with Fortune magazine reporting in May that a $5 investment in Bitcoin seven years ago would be worth $4.4m today. And today there are over 900 cryptocurrencies out there in the ether.

The mere principle of cryptocurrency seems mind-boggling – a digital asset that never physically changes hands, so who knows what the future of this digital cash will be. But while it seems so crazily futuristic, Burger King’s announcement of its own-branded virtual cash leaves me wondering if this really is money madness or just a sign of the times…

WhopperCoin

Burger King’s head of external communications has claimed that its new virtual currency scheme has created an investment vehicle from the Whopper burger.

A WhopperCoin reportedly equates to one rouble (about 1.3p). Burger King has explained that its customers will amass the virtual cash every time they buy a Whopper burger – so it’s essentially a loyalty scheme.

But the virtual currency differs from a normal loyalty scheme, as customers will supposedly have the freedom to spend their amassed coins with whoever else accepts them (but perhaps not in McDonald’s…).

Burger King customers in Russia will be able to claim their accrued coins by scanning their receipt with a smartphone.

Commenting on this announcement, Emin Gün Sirer, an associate professor at Cornell University and a director at the Initiative for Cryptocurrencies and Contracts, stated on Twitter:


Now, according to some financial commentators, we’re experiencing a cryptocurrency boom. So with Burger King unveiling its own-branded virtual currency this week, do we accept this as the future and will we soon be trading our coffee-addiction accrued ‘StarBucks’ to pay for the weekly shop?

Do you think more brands will launch their own virtual currencies? Or is this simply money madness?

Comments
Profile photo of Joe Elvin
Member

At first, I thought this was just a glorified loyalty scheme. Then, I researched further and discovered Whoppercoins can be freely transferred and traded online. Absolutely bizarre.

Profile photo of Lauren Deitz
Member

To be fair, if I could accumulate my loyalty card points (I spend far too much money in Boots) and then convert them to spend elsewhere, that would be a beneficial scheme in my eyes. Unfortunately, I think my last Burger King Whopper was about 10 years ago, so the WhopperCoin isn’t really something that I’d consider buying in to.

Profile photo of malcolm r
Member

So a Burger King Whopper in Russia costs £22.10 (in roubles) – 1700 Whoppercoins @1.3p each?

Profile photo of Lauren Deitz
Member

Seems like it – as I understand it that’s what the value of a WhopperCoin is considered to be, you gain one WhopperCoin per rouble (1.3p conversion to sterling) and that’s how you accumulate them – it’s estimated that every five or six purchases will give enough WhopperCoins to purchase a Whopper burger.

Profile photo of malcolm r
Member

@ldeitz, благодаря 🙂

Profile photo of Lauren Deitz
Member

No problem, Malcolm. Fascinating concept, but I’m not sure if you’re really being rewarded?

Profile photo of wavechange
Member

How many WhopperCoins to the Bitcoin? We need to know the exchange rate.

Profile photo of Lauren Deitz
Member

The WhopperCoin is its own version of cryptocurrency (and Bitcoin is another) so I’m not entirely sure what the process would be for exchanging a WhopperCoin for a Bitcoin would be – I’m not sure that the two virtual currencies would exchange in that way. However, I suppose you could do the maths – one Bitcoin is valued at 278247.56 Russian Rubles (about £3,706.75 according to today’s conversion rate) and if 1,700 is equal to one ruble then you’ll need to eat a lot of Whoppers to start converting to Bitcoins…

Profile photo of malcolm r
Member

Will we see the return of Greenshield Stamps? A book of 1024 – for which you would have had to spend at least £25.12.0d – could be exchanged for 10/- worth of goods.

Profile photo of John Ward
Member

I still have a book of Green Shield Stamps awaiting redemption. Unfortunately I can no longer find the book of 3d stamps that came with Lyons Premium Tea. There was one stamp on every quarter-pound packet of the tea.

Profile photo of PatrickTaylor
Member

It is a shame that the BBC article is not more fully quoted as we have this rider which highlights the downside:

“Commenting on Twitter, Emin Gun Sirer, an associate professor at Cornell University and a director at the Initiative for Cryptocurrencies and Contracts, said there were likely to be launches of other schemes.
“Reward points are actually a good use case for blockchains,” he said. However, in a later conversation, he warned that they could be used for money laundering and ransomware payments. “This will undoubtedly happen,” he said.

On a general point of presentation if the links were repeated at the end of the article the chances are more likely that readers will click on them rather than scroll back to find them in the body of the test. I doubt many people follow the links whilst they read the Conversation the first time as this would destroy the flow of the Conversation . Perhaps Which? could explain this house style were no links appear at the end from the point of view of a reader.

Profile photo of Lauren Deitz
Member

Yes, Emin Gun Sirer posted those comments on Twitter, Patrick. Regulation aside, what we’re keen to know is whether you (as a consumer) would be comfortable using branded currency.

Profile photo of Ian
Member

I wouldn’t, at the moment. For me, anyway, too many unknowns.

Profile photo of Lauren Deitz
Member

I’m with you there, Ian. Although I am slightly envious of those Bitcoin millionaires who invested a measly $5 in 2007!

Profile photo of Ian
Member

Hey – I turned down the chance to buy 1000 shares in Apple in 1995…

Profile photo of PatrickTaylor
Member

This Conversation links to the BBC article which mentions the Twitter item. I assumed the Which? Conversation was sparked by reading the BBC news item. Commenters here might apprciate the mention of the downsides.

Be that as it may I am not a fan of crypto-currencies as people will be familiar already with the thefts and the volatility of value. It seems to me to have all the hallmarks of tulip-mania or the South Sea Bubble.

If we ever reach the stage where nation states are happy to go to a crypto-currency I am not convinced the populace at large will relish the knowledge that their worth is represented by computer generated currency and exist only in the ether. Humans being quite simply minded will wish for tangible wealth and this will no doubt make gold etc. more popular.

Member
John Blenkinsop says:
4 September 2017

I really don’t see the logic of using a branded currency when one has a value currency anyway. It is just another opportunity for the gullible public to lose money. As a reward scheme fine, but certainly would’nt put my own hard earned cash into it. Same applies to Bitcoin, whoich is just another commodity in reality & can go up or down like shares & minerals.

Member
bishbut says:
1 September 2017

Another gimmick ? Are they losing custom ? Gimmicks appear in various guises !Just another that I will ignore as usual

Profile photo of alfa
Member

I’ve got a Disney dollar. 🙂

Profile photo of Lauren Deitz
Member

Good point, alfa. But you can only spend that at Disney, right?

Profile photo of alfa
Member

Very true Lauren. I just kept it as a souvenir.

Profile photo of Ian
Member

Actually, depending on the issue they’re rather good as collectables. I spent around £7 on a Disney mug/cup and they’re currently fetching around £700 each on ebay. We also have some original artwork from Beauty and the Beast (I knew one of the animators) and quite a bit of Eurodisney collectable stuff.

All Disney merchandise over time acquires value, simply because Disney are forever changing their lines. The Pin trading lanyards were introduced when Disney decided to capitalise on that and we also have an original first edition Pin from WDW.

Member
Derek says:
2 September 2017

Absolutely not. This idea is taking us back to the middle ages, when every town or village had its own currency. Utter nonsense, but of course it is really just a marketing gimmick. Personally I have never eaten in Burger King.

Member

Crypto-Currencies are now going to be global in a few years time… start getting used to the fact…
Its happening !!!!! Our government is now trillions of GBP in debt and its only a matter of time before a major crisis hits Britain.. e.g. A financial collapse of the government / system … get your pennies out of the bank and under the floor boards. WHILST you still can..
With global crypto currencies taking shape all over the world right now, everyone is getting involved as its a safe haven for your money, and the government cannot take it from you… LIKE they will do when our financial disaster arrives in the near future.. A good indicator for this to happen will be if interest rates increase.. As this would also mean the government debts would be more expensive too. Our governments debts have tripled in the last 7 years I.E. we borrowed more money 2009 to 2117 than in the previous 100 years.. When the tish its the fan.. its us that will suffer.. major tax hikes, pensions/welfare and peoples savings.. THINK.

Profile photo of Sophie Gilbert
Member

In what way is the digital asset that I receive every month from my employer, which I pay for most things digitally, which never physically changes hands, any less artificial, any less mad?

Profile photo of malcolm r
Member

From the Register:
“Paris Hilton inflates crypto bubble some more, backs Initial Coin Offering
Meanwhile, China says of ICOs: That’s hot, we mean, er, banned
By Kat Hall 4 Sep 2017 at 13:04 SHARE ▼
Paris Hilton DJs . Editorial credit: ANDREA DELBO / Shutterstock.com
Pic: ANDREA DELBO / Shutterstock.com
Just in case we were in any doubt that we were in a crypto bubble, Paris Hilton has announced she will back an Initial Coin Offering venture.

On Sunday, the famous “heir-head” tweeted she was participating in the upcoming “LydianCoin” ICO.

As long as air heads back it……

Member

No, but for other reasons.

Even if I was more comfortable with virtual currency, the ‘trendy’ attraction of what is slightly more than 1p off the price of a Whopper does not attract me to the idea of giving money to yet another company who are spending millions lobbying to hide Genetically Modified/Created Organisms from ingredients lists. So no, I wouldn’t be having a Pepsi with it either.